There are tens of thousands of Islamic State (IS) fighters and their family members including tens of thousands of orphaned children who are living in limbo in Syria and Iraq suffering from malnutrition and disease.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Michelle Bachelet has called on various nations to take responsibility for their citizens and their families and repatriate them to their home countries.
Some countries are dragging there feet to address this humanitarian disaster and are reluctant to take back IS fighters in case they can not be successfully prosecuted.
Ms Bachelet said that children in particular had suffered “grievous violations” of their human rights.
“Accountability through fair trials protects societies from future radicalisation and violence,” she said, adding that continuing to detain individuals not suspected of crimes was not acceptable.
She added: “Foreign family members should be repatriated, unless they are to be prosecuted for crimes in accordance with international standards.”
Ms Bachelet highlighted in particular the plight of children born to IS fighters, reported to number about 29,000.
“States should provide the same access to nationality for children born to their nationals in conflict zones as is otherwise applicable.
“To inflict statelessness on children who have already suffered so much is an act of irresponsible cruelty,” she said.
So far France, Russia, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the Netherlands have taken back some children.
Australia has evacuated six children from a “bleak and complicated” situation at a Syrian refugee camp.
The UN says there are about 29,000 children of foreign IS fighters in Syria, 20,000 of them from Iraq, but overall there are about 50 nationalities.